“The last watch made in England”.
Vintage military watches are one of the most interesting sub-sets of timepiece collecting. For many, they encapsulate the essence of “tool watch” in their most elemental form – if for no other reason than they were built to be issued to sailors, soldiers and airmen and brought into some of the harshest environments possible. Their stark, no-frills designs were universally practical, tough-as-a-brick-shithouse rugged, and a large number of them were actually used for what they were designed for, unlike the vast majority of “desk divers” we more commonly see today.
Within the range of military-issued timepieces there are a number of sub-genres, including field watches, divers, and aviator’s chronographs among others, all worthy of study and admiration in their own right. But there are a few that truly stand out in a crowd, and we’ve found one of those for you today!
Smiths was the last surviving British watch company to fully manufacture watches in the UK, and from the 1950s until the company was shuttered in the 70s, Smiths supplied watch to the Ministry of Defense. The W10 aviators watches were issued from the late 60s onward, and the Caliber 60466E movement ticking away inside beneath the shielding of an anti-magnetic dust cover is the last serially produced British-made movement (and there has not been another since, though Bremont is working hard to take up that mantle).
With a stunningly clean matte black dial, white Arabic numerals, an encircled T (indicating Tritium lume), fixed lugs and a “Made in England” signed dial, this W10 is true survivor pilot’s watch that looks great on the wrist today. With a 35mm case and long lugs, the watch is a joy to wear and has an incredible backstory that you can recount to everyone who spots the Smiths on your wrist.
Unlike the multitude of “vintage military style” wristwatches available from a growing number of fashion retailers, the Smiths W10 is the real deal.